Wherever did the idea that evolution is a problem for the Christian faith come from? The standard narrative simply presumes the conflict was automatic. The contemporary creationist view is taken to be the standard view of pre-Darwinian Christianity and contemporary Christians who do not espouse that view are seen as compromising their faith with science.
This is all non-sense. Creationism is an entirely modern phenomenon, one that holds a picture of God that is very difficult to square with the broader Christian tradition. Intelligent Design, which tries to reconcile God and modern science, is perhaps even worse in this regard. Its attempt at reconciliation makes a mockery of science and theology. In my view, that is the necessary outcome of trying to reconcile two things that are not at odds.
I wrote a paper a few years back about creationism and ID as bad theology, not just bad science. I had toyed with the idea of turning the basic ideas in it into something for publication, but now that Conor Cunningham’s Darwin’s Pious Idea is out, that seems superfluous. Nevertheless, I will probably share it here at Vox Nova in the near future.
In any case, Cunningham’s basic ideas have been turned into a one-hour BBC special that I thought might be of interest to our readership. Cunningham shows that the standard narrative we have been given about evolution as a challenge to the faith is historically untenable and theologically suspect. While a one-hour popular special will obviously be forced into superficiality at points (e.g., many Catholics would like more nuance on what it means to read the Bible “literally”), I suspect Cunningham’s book goes into much more depth. Though I have not yet read it, the endorsements alone (from luminaries like Slavoj Zizek, Charles Taylor, Robert Sokolowski and Stanley Hauerwas) give one reasons for hope.Here is a quote from the special to whet your appetite:
“It is my contention that Darwin’s theory of evolution did not challenge God in the 19th century, nor did it challenge God in the 20th century, despite claims made by creationism. The only reason people thought it did was because of the noise, furor, and cacophony caused by creationists. But I don’t think that creationism is a true heir to the Christian tradition. Rather they are a modern anomaly, an aberration, a product of 20th century anxiety.”
The special is here broken into 4 parts. The final 3 are below the cut off.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le9TqH2gRyQ&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OmcFwOiFxs&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM5M1252lcc&feature=related
As a complete side-track, is there anything that so clearly demonstrates the proximity of societal collapse as the commentary available under videos such as this on Youtube? Egads.
Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto. He is a father of two (so far) and husband of one.